Pease: Democrats angry with ‘sellout’ president

Thank goodness for traditional Democrats with wisdom and experience from a previous trade deal that badly hurt the American worker. They are, for the second time in a generation, opposing their own president for selling them out.

Three weeks ago Democratic lawmakers joined union leaders and hundreds of other Democrats in a rally on Capitol Hill to express their outrage with the request of President Barack Obama, to extend fast-track status to what is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. All speakers were angry, one referring to the White House, “We don’t trust you.” Rep. Alan Grayson called the Administration a “sellout government,” and suggested that it did not seem to matter “who’s in charge, Democrats or Republicans.” He wanted to “take back our government from the political acrobats and the corporate aristocrats.” The crowd cheered.

Dr. Harold Pease

Dr. Harold Pease

Still others wanted to know what Obama was hiding in the 27 chapter agreement between the Pacific Rim countries, reportedly only five having anything to do with trade itself, since they were asked to approve fast track-status, basically an up or down vote without changes, and without being able to read it. Senator Elizabeth Warren yelled “No more secret trade deals!” And, “No more special deals for multinational corporations!!” Again, these are Democrats accusing Obama of selling them out.

Traditional Democrats feel that they are watching the same movie as provided by President Bill Clinton when he shoved the over 3,755 page North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (two volume copy of treaty and supporting documentation in my possession) down their throats, similarly on a fast-track approval process, some twenty-two years ago with precisely the same arguments, that it would expand American jobs. It didn’t!! They were then; as now, overwhelmingly opposed to it, but he was their president so enough supported him to get the deal through. Most democrats with union membership understandably felt betrayed.

The process then and now is the up or down vote without debate and a simple majority vote of both houses of Congress—a process not in the Constitution. Constitutionally the House of Representatives has no treaty-making function. Solely the Senate possesses this power. Clinton, realizing that he could not get a two-thirds vote for treaty confirmation in the Senate as required, purposely used the word agreement rather than treaty, thus treating it as a law, which then required only a simple majority of both houses of Congress for confirmation. He used the same unconstitutional technique on his second major treaty of his two terms in office, GATT—General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Obama seeks the same unconstitutional process for his treaty; presenting it to both houses for a simple majority rather than to the Senate for a two-thirds vote as constitutionally required. If not stopped now this will be the trend for future presidents as well. No member of Congress should participate in this constitutional distortion or ever vote affirmatively on any measure that they have not fully read and been thoroughly vetted with colleagues and the public.

Even Obama in 2009, seeking union votes in Ohio, described NAFTA as having been devastating to the working class. He claimed in the Bloomberg News that it had cost 1 million American jobs and led to “entire cities” being “devastated.” Yet it is he that now betrays his base support as had Clinton in 1993, the father of NAFTA.

Last week Democrats courageously prevented an affirmative vote for the hated fast-tracked secret treaty but enough were swayed by personal phone calls from the President to get committee passage. In the Senate it now goes to the full body.

The Republican base is generally supportive minus the Tea Party contingent. Patriots worry not only over the loss of American jobs that will result, but also about expanded corporate international control of every person on earth (formerly referred to as world government). They also view corporate management of the economy as not the free market and they have problems with the distortions to the Constitution to achieve it. They are also troubled by the secrecy surrounding the whole agreement. Secrecy and liberty are rarely compatible.

Thus far Senator Rand Paul is the only prominent presidential candidate from either major party expressing the belief that the treaty should be made public immediately before any vote is taken on it. At present Senators are only allowed to read the 800-page document (probably treaty only without supporting documentation) in a room with signs on the door, “No Public Or Media Beyond This Point.” No private copies are allowed to Senators and they are not to disclose its contents—thus the charge secret agreement. Paul plans to oppose it but his Kentucky counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, promises to run it through as quickly as possible. We soon will know the position of the remaining presidential contenders. Freedom advocates are advised to reject from further office any member voting for fast-tract consideration or any measure without full disclosure, public vetting, and congressional debate.

Again, thanks to the Democratic Party faithful that have been bold enough to resist the intrigues of their own president to abandon the American worker and instead to protect him. Hopefully constitutionalist will join them in their efforts. It will take more than party to reclaim our liberties and our jobs.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for more than 25 years at Taft College.

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  • Mark

    We simply cannot, as a nation, close our borders to all trade and immigration, especially in today’s globalized economy. Economic protectionism is not the answer. The economy is changing from a manufacturing to a service economy, and the displacement that results from this process is largely because of the gulf between the more modern, technological skills employers need and the ones prospective employees actually have (or “lack” might be a better term). Unfortunately, this gets blamed on NAFTA and other trade agreements by cunning opportunists, and the real problem, the skills gap, goes unaddressed. Perhaps we should devote our energies to improving education instead of senseless demagoguery.

  • hanktuesday

    He is saying the global economy is sending manufacturing jobs to countries where they pay slave wages in order to make a large profit. That the global economy is a total BS coverup job to make the rich richer. That if manufacturing jobs stayed state side with a decent wage, then people here could make a decent living. People want to be able to get a decent job without a bunch of schooling, like the baby boomer generation had it. But I believe it’s gonna take another big war to bring people together, to bring the rich down to earth with the common working man. But then again they will probably fly off to some other country and apply for citizenship, that is if they don’t already have duel citizenship.

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